You will note that it has been some time since I have committed an entry to this journal. It is not, I assure you, from lack of material to criticize. If anything, the monstrous, soul-killing behemoth of western culture is worse now than it was when I put fingers to keyboard to discuss Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
What has changed is the amount of time I have to devote to my online life. My book The Urbaniak Effect
has been put on the back burner for now, as I have been finishing my dissertation. However, when I was last dining with my editor I told her of an idea I have for a series of detective novels, about a young, idealistic grad student who uses her analytical skills and vast understanding of culture to solve murders, while simultaneously balancing her career and increasingly complicated love life. Look for the first one in the fall of next year!
Sue Storm: whining, castrating bitch.
Reed Richards wants to save the world.
Johnny and Ben, over-grown man-boys, bicker and screw around.
Victor von Doom wants to take over the world, even in the face of its destruction.
What does Sue want? To have a perfect picture-book wedding, of course.
She hectors Reed for not paying enough attention to wedding details and shows up to be a wet blanket at his bachelor party. The Surfer ruins her wedding with massive destruction, and as Johnny zooms off after him, Sue sits down and cries because her wedding is ruined.
Later, when it becomes apparent that the world is ending, Sue still finds time to criticize Reed for spending too much time trying to set things right. She wants to give all this up, settle down, and force Reed
to settle down as well. She can only be happy, apparently, as a castrating bitch.
Still later, it comes time for somebody to take a bullet for the world, to show the Surfer the value of sacrifice. Guess who receives that honor? Castrating-bitch-turned-victim Sue Storm, of course.
This is what she's good for: whining about not getting enough attention, keeping men down, and giving up her life. Oh, and "tenderness" of course, she's the one good at that. Because we wouldn't expect that from any of the men.
I bring this up because I saw this movie with a four-year-old girl who happens to be quite taken with Sue Storm. What does this movie say to her? It says: your job is to "be a girl," ie, pester men about affairs of the heart, demand that they set aside every possible consideration to fuel your archaic notions of romance, be "nurturing," whine to get what you want, worry excessively about your appearance, and place the longing for a quiet family life above everything else, even the end of the world
Sue, of course, snaps out of this 50s housewife way of thinking. What changes her mind? Getting killed. She goes from being an irritating goad to being the sacrificial lamb -- big leap. Where can she go from there? Nowhere, not with out the help of man, this one from another planet, who brings her back to life and "gives her back" to her husband-to-be, helpless and destroyed, like the property she is.
I've read many reviews of this movie in the past few days, and haven't come across any that mention Sue's degrading, retrograde personality. This is as clear an indication to me of how much the goals of feminism have been rolled back in today's America as any -- a movie like this comes out and no one even notices.
Superman is the Last Son of Krypton. Always has been, always will be. Even during his "death" and resurrection in the 90s, his backstory remained the same. He was sent to earth by his loving father and provides us with an example of goodness and strength.
Batman is Bruce Wayne, a millionaire playboy whose parents died at the hands of a mugger in the back alley of a movie theater in Gotham City. He vowed then, as a boy, to one day avenge his parents' deaths, a vow that has led to a never-ending quest for justice for an entire city.
These things don't change. These things are sacred. To change these things would be a betrayal of the characters (and thus the valuable corporate brand they represent). Hal Jordan is always a test pilot, Billy Batson is always a homeless boy, Eel O'Brien is always a criminal who gets some gunk dropped on him.
That's how things are for men in the DC Universe.
Yes, things do get shuffled around, and minor characters do get reinvented when it serves the publisher's pleasure, and then there's the whole genre-killing "multiverse" nightmare, but for the important brands names, Superman is always the Last Son of Krypton and Batman is always the Dark Knight of Gotham.
How are things for Wonder Woman? She is the third of "The Big Three," how are things for her? Surely, one would think, for a brand as important as her, her backstory would never change, right? She's the Amazonian Princess, born to be untouched by Man's World, yet destined to be its savior. Right? Isn't that who Wonder Woman is?
George W. Bush refers to himself as "The CEO President." And so he is. I give him points for honesty and self-knowledge.
Let's examine the corporate ideal. The corporate ideal is: everyone gives me all their money and I give them nothing.
Now then: it's very difficult for a corporation to sustain itself for long at this level of profit. Sooner or later, they somehow have to actually provide some kind of goods or service to somebody, or else consumers start to ask for their money back and somebody goes to jail.
In the music business, the costs of manufacturing and distributing music keep dropping, yet the prices keep going up as the industry strains to achieve the corporate ideal. In the communications business, the cost of relaying information from place to place plummets yet the cost of doing business skyrockets as the communications businesses strain to achieve the corporate ideal. And so on, down the line. Insurance, banking, medicine, companies doing the best they can to attain the shining apex of their greed, the sacred space where everyone gives them all their money and they give nothing to no one.
And so here we are with the CEO President. When the decision was made to invade Iraq, there were protests all over the nation, the largest numbers of protesters ever assembled at a single time. The CEO President ignored them. When the city of New Orleans was destroyed, the CEO President looked sad and said it was a real bummer. Then, when citizens asked him what he was going to do
about it, he looked startled -- what
? I'm supposed to do
something to prevent American cities from being wiped out? He was sincerely caught off guard at that moment; he sincerely had no idea
that the government is in any way supposed to be responsible for the protection of its citizens. And from his standpoint as the CEO President, it is not. As the CEO President, the government has only one responsibility: maximizing profits for its shareholders. And the nice thing about running the government like a corporation is that you don't have to worry about regulation -- you are the regulatory agency! Ha!
Now he is living through the longest lame-duck presidency in history, just trying to keep all the plates spinning as he and his puppeteers sock away as much of the taxpayers money as they can before they are brought up on war crimes by the ensuing administration. I am against torture of political prisoners and capital punishment, but I'm sure, given enough time, I could think of a fitting end to the lives of this scum.
I turn around and a season has passed.
Work progresses on the urbaniak
book; I have just begun work on what is turning out to be a rather involved chapter regarding robolizard
. Meanwhile, my subject (Urbaniak, not Robolizard), I dare say, runs the risk of metamorphosing from cultural minutiae to minor cultural entity. I've checked with my editor and she insists that urbaniak
's recent bloggy notice
from the mainstream press
will not significantly elevate Urbaniak's standing as a cultural force. Meanwhile, the rolling stone of Urbaniak's blog continues to gather the moss of lost souls who turn to him for whatever tiny slivers of limelight he may shed upon their apparently dead-end lives. Could Urbaniak be, in the end, a form of suicide prevention? That would, at last, be a positive contribution to the culture.
As the media slithers around in the sea of its own filth regarding the death of Gerald Ford, let us not forget the true legacy of the man.
Gerald Ford was, first and last, a block-headed, pig-ignorant moron who made it okay for the conservative movement to install whatever brain-dead idiot they wish in the White House, and they have succeeded in doing so ever since. Richard Nixon may have been an evil, Machiavellian schemer with a heart of ice, but he was ten times the man that Ford was and 100 times the politician our current Chimp-in-Chief is. He was also, on domestic issues, at least ten degrees to the left of Bill Clinton.
Stare into the eyes of the patron saint of stupidity.
I know what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Christmas is all about control.
It starts with the family. Christmas is the time when the most crumbling power structures of the most morally bankrupt familes get to assert themselves, perhaps for the only time of the year. If you are unfortunate enough to be burdened with family, you will be greatly pressured to spend Christmas with them. You don't like these people, you didn't ask to be born into this family, and yet you will be forced to spend anywhere up to a week in their company. And not just in their company but under their command. You will be forced to eat their disgusting food, watch their insipid TV specials, listen to their crappy music, live according to their outdated, outmoded moral codes in their stupid, smug, self-righteous communities and take it all with a big fat shit-eating smile. Christmas is not something to be celebrated, it's something to be dreaded.
It moves from the family to the church. The church invented this accursed holiday, which, under the best of circumstances, should be celebrated once, and only once, on December 21, not for two weeks between the Friday previous to Christmas through the Monday after Jan 1. This is the time of the year when that doomed, evil organization, Christianity, gets to assert their control over the western world's minds. No matter who you are and what your particular beliefs are, the Christian church beats you over the head with their stupid fucking holiday and its unholy messages for a solid month, an entire month where the church and its media outlets get to remind you that the western world is theirs
And then, of course, there is retail, because for some reason the ultra-Christian holiday of Christmas, where we are supposed to be wondering with great awe about the story of the humble babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, is spent in an anxious orgy of materialism. Because gift-giving is a requirement of all citizens, regardless of creed, on Christmas one is inundated with a ton of the most useless crap ever created to sate a culture obsessed with and doomed to gorge itself on consumption for the sake of consumption.
It is a lie, an obscene frenzy of hypocrisy, shame, anxiety and pointless activity, and perhaps most disturbing, it is a week-long, world-wide conspiracy to KEEP ME FROM GETTING WORK DONE.
And that's what's Christmas is all about.
Halfway through this movie, my date, a 40-year-old housewife with two children, leaned over and whispered "Now I won't need an estrogen shot this month."
Afterward I asked her if it was displeasurable or merely shocking to see a movie purely about women's issues. She said it was merely shocking. It's not just that Volver
is a film about women; it is that it is (unlike, say, The Devil Wears Prada
) an intelligent, witty, complex and not-easily parsed film about women. It's full of movie-movie moments, like a woman interrupted by a neighbor while trying to get rid of her child-rapist husband's dead body, or a dead woman showing up midway through the movie to "haunt" the rest of the characters, but those movie-movie moments are not the point of the film, they get woven into a much more interesting, vital, humanist story of, you know, love and betrayal and responsibility -- you know, women's issues.
But yes, it is disorienting to walk into a movie theater in the United States and see a film where men are presented as shallow, interchangeable plot points, eye candy and mindless doofuses, puppy-dogs and alien beings -- you know, the way women are portrayed in every American film released.